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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Not "Feeling" It


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My DD (9, will be 10 in two months), just received her fall class level placement along with notes about what she needs to work on in the coming year. DD is moving up a level, but she didn’t get the level she wanted – I told her that moving up is moving up and is never guaranteed, so she should just be pleased that she isn’t repeating. Fell on deaf ears…


Anyway, my question is about the notes that we received. The main comment is that she needs to work “on her ability to feel what her body is doing “in the moment” of moving… Sometimes it looks like her body is “going through the motions” instead of her fully directing her movement.” I was not at all surprised by this, as I have made the same observation and I know next to nothing about ballet.


DD is fully capable of achieving the positions, with minimal effort, but I think that is her problem. She has very good natural turn-out and is hyper-mobile in many joints. Sometimes you can see her turn-out at 45 degrees, which she’ll correct as soon as she notices or is corrected. When I ask her if she can feel the difference, she always that no, it feels the same. The same applies with her knees and feet. I believe her, I honestly think that she cannot feel the difference. Is this common in hyper-mobile students?


It is probably worth noting that DD’s previous studio seemed more concerned with “tricks” than technique and would often push young students too far. DD would come out of classes sore because of this, and being hyper-mobile, too far was really too far. (Thank goodness we left before she suffered any real injuries.) After that experience, she does seem hesitant to push further and risk hyper-extension. I think that she is afraid of hurting herself. She needs to find that line between “feeling it” and hurting herself. It’s hard to get that through her head when she knows that she is doing what everyone else is doing, even though everyone knows that she can do more, and that is what her instructors are waiting for – her to do more.


(I am planning on speaking with DD’s instructor about this when classes resume, but that over a month away.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm hypermobile in my ankles, and a bit hyperextended in my knees. I used to be much more hyperextended in my knees than I am now.


It takes strength to control hypermobility.....which takes time and training. The proprioception to 'feel' exactly where you are and where you want to be takes a loooong time to develop, I'm not at all surprised your daughter at her young age is having trouble. Even though I have been dancing since the age of 3 (I'm 33 now though I just recently returned to serious ballet after 15 years off), I still need to look in the mirror sometimes to see that my placement is off. Same with turnout, I often have to look to make sure my feet are in the correct placement, and it's not rare to see the other girls in my class doing the same, and I take class with int/adv RAD teens. That's why there are mirrors in the studio, after all!


It sounds like you've luckily found good teachers for your daughter, and hopefully you can trust their guidance that they know what to do and how to 'push' your daughter without hurting her. If not, obviously it's not the right studio! But it sounds like they know what they're doing. It's also not at all unusual at these young ages to not see the kind of 'control' we associate with ballet.....for example, I see an ENORMOUS difference in placement, lines, body awareness, grace, etc., between RAD grade 6 (usually around 11 years old) and the vocationals (around age 13+) at our studio, and a lot of that is not only training but maturity. So it takes time.

Edited by Victoria Leigh
Post re-opened after being hidden.
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silkmaiden, are you a parent of a dancer under age 13? Your post is spot-on, however, this forum is one of the forums that we have specific guidelines for who can post. :)



Yes, it is more difficult for those whose bodies can easily "assimilate" a position or movement to actually "feel" their body. And you are right that because she had the prior accelerated movement, she likely feels as if she is not learning anything. However, the opposite is true- she is now learning how to properly execute those movements, albeit in a more basic way, and she will get back to doing those more advanced steps once she is capable of understanding how to engage and use her muscles properly.

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silkmaiden, are you a parent of a dancer under age 13? Your post is spot-on, however, this forum is one of the forums that we have specific guidelines for who can post. :)


Yep! :) Two of my sons are dancers, and they're 7 and 3. I didn't mention it because my sons aren't at this level since the eldest is just starting Ballet 1 this year, so I haven't faced similar issues with them yet.


I do apologize if I've posted where I shouldn't though!

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No, you are fine to post here, and I will re-open your post. But please do put the fact that you are a parent of a dancer in your profile!

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Ms. Leigh - no problem, I didn't realize that was an option! I will go amend my profile right now. Thank you! :)

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tldx - I would definitely set up a conference before dwelling too much on the issue. silkmaiden commented about a "physical" feeling regarding hypermobile dancers, but when I read your post I immediately thought about a "passionate" feeling. I thought the same thing when I re-read it just now - that maybe your DD doesn't have as much of an emotional connection to the music as her teacher would like. Once you talk with her teacher and know exactly what they mean, then you will be in a position to better discuss what it is exactly they are wanting from your DD. Good luck!

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It will be interesting to hear the results of the conference. This thread was started August 1st, so perhaps the OP can give us an update?

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Thank you all so much! I'd almost forgotten about this post. Yes, it is the physical aspect that is of concern here. The passion, well, my daughter would has that in spades.


Classes start in a little over a week, so I'll be able to schedule a conference after that. DD will also be getting a new teacher this year, so I will be interested to here that teacher's opinions as well (she normally works with the advanced students).


I do have to say, again, that we love DD's current studio. The teachers do seem truly invested in the students and all seem so knowledgeable. They seem to understand each student so well and really take the time to work with them individually (even if that means in the hallway between classes). I have learned more in a year at this studio than I did in four years at the old one.

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It's ok to love the current school, but still have questions!!! No place is absolutely perfect, and your questions are honest.


I still remember when my son was doing basketball, and the coach asked me to be sure my son practiced his "free throws". I said, "What the heck is a free throw??", and all the other parents looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. The coach showed me and I took my boy over to the court every day and tried to get him to practice those bleepin' throws...... who knew that all I should have done was get him into dance class and he'd practice all day and night!!!

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  • 1 month later...

I just wanted to stop by with an update. I haven’t had a chance to meet with DD’s instructor yet (the melee of back to school and all that comes with it). But we did speak briefly last night.


The instructor agrees with my thought, it is her joints that are the root of this. I am very happy to say that DD and her instructor have been actively working on this since the semester began. They are currently focusing on her knees – helping DD to find “straight”, that elusive place between loose and hyper-extended. DD has been given some very specific instructions for what to feel for, and none of them are “when they feel straight”.


Between the studio schedule and my own, it will probably be at least two weeks before the instructor and I can sit down and talk, but since DD and the instructor were on top of it all along, I feel pretty good about the situation.

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Daughter had similar problems in her elbows when doing gym. The coach use to say to her just slightly bent. So when she thought he was bending slightly they were actually straight. It worked for her

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